A Martini Party + More Black Friday.

By: Jen Shoop

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Last Friday, we had two couples over for a Martini Night. A few of our guests had never had a martini before, and it felt like the perfect opportunity to enter the holiday season with bells on. We served a martini flight:

+Classic gin martini, served Mr. Magpie’s way;


+Espresso martini.

I’ll share our recipes for each martini below. Our guests skipped or asked for “mini martinis”/half-pours for certain “courses” depending on their taste preferences. I had suggested guests arrive after a full dinner, but we did serve substantive snacks:

+Trader Joe’s Pastry Pups (I brushed the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with Everything Bagel seasoning) served with a few of our favorite mustards (love to the Magpie who introduced me to Lusty Monk’s variety!);

+Cheese board with a few types of cheese and crackers, including the piece de resistance: a triple cream cheese I found at The Organic Butcher in Bethesda (they have an excellent cheese selection focusing on local creameries!) served with the seasonal “Stollen” crackers from Trader Joes, seen below. I also had rosemary marcona almonds and hot honey on the plate.

+Truffle potato chips (found at TJ’s, but I also like the Torres brand);

+Some toffee (also bought at TJ’s — perfect with the espresso martini).

I normally avoid TJs like the plague, as I hate the shopping experience and the parking lots are invariably a disaster (yap yap yap, champagne problems), but it is a great spot for novelty/seasonal snacks for an occasion such as this, especially as I was short on time and was not able to make more involved appetizers from scratch. I joked with my friends that I “Sandra-Lee’d” the snacks.

trader joes stollen crisps

For a festive and fun ambiance, I had our Ginger Biscuit candle from Jo Malone going (I normally don’t like candles that smell like baked goods, but this has a rich spiciness to it that I love) and put on this upbeat mix, which catered to my guests’s tastes (more contemporary music party vibes, less Frank Sinatra vibes — though I feel like you could go either way with martinis). It needs a good shuffle. After it played out, we put on the Olivia Rodrigo album from start to finish. One of my guy friends was belting out all of her teen girl angst songs (we both loved “I Want Him Back”) and it was amazing. A reminder to “read the room” when hosting, especially when it comes to music — I’d had a sense that my Tony Bennett playlist would be too sleepy for the occasion, and I was right.

Anyhow, below, sharing recipes for our martini flight. I feel I should add that my best friend is a big fan of the martini, and we call them “Martoonskis.” We were sharing a hotel room for the girls’ weekend in Atlanta and she turned to me while we were getting ready and said: “Martoonskis?” We then had espresso martinis brought up to the room (the ultimate indulgence), and it was SO FUN. Feel free to appropriate our phrasing 🙂

Mr. Magpie’s Martini.

2.5 oz Tanqueray London Dry Gin*, placed in the freezer the day before

3/4 oz dry vermouth (preferably Nouilly Prat — put in freezer maybe 45m before serving, but not longer, as this will freeze)

dash orange bitters

Garnish: 1 lemon twist.

Place martini glasses (these are the exact ones we have) and stirring glass in freezer early in the day.

Stir all ingredients in stirring glass over ice, then strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

*If you are a gin lover, you probably have your favorite brand. I personally love Hendrick’s Gin. However, most traditional martini recipes call for Tanqueray, Beefeater, or Plymouth gins for the most traditional flavor, so that’s what we served our guests.

**There are many variations on the classic martini: different spirits, olives/olive juice, etc, etc. Mr. Magpie’s version is crisp and bracing, with a kiss of citrus brightness. It is absolutely necessary that all ingredients, including glasses, are very cold, and that ingredients are not approximated. You can double batch these to make two martinis at once.

***I’ve mentioned this so many times, but this angled jigger is the best way to measure cocktail ingredients. You can see how much you’re pouring from a bird’s eye view — helpful when measuring lots of small portions. I have a long post on how to make great cocktails at home, with lots of gear included, here. I also saved most of the gear in this section of my Amazon shop.


2.5 oz Rittenhouse 100 Rye

3/4 oz sweet vermouth (we use Dolin)

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Garnish: 1 brandied cherry

Place coupes or martini glasses in freezer ahead of time. If serving in coupes, we use these (currently on sale! these are among my most prized possessions).

Stir all ingredients in stirring glass over ice, then strain into a coupe. Garnish with a cherry.

Espresso Martini.

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen.

1.5 oz aged rum (we love Flor de Cana)

1 oz brewed espresso, chilled (we bought this in advance from Grace Street Coffee since we don’t have an espresso maker)

3/4 oz Benedictine

1/2 oz coffee liqueur*

Garnish: 3 espresso beans (we use coffee beans since we don’t ever buy espresso beans for home)

Place coupes or martini glasses in freezer ahead of time.

Add rum, espresso, Benedtictine, and liqueuer to your smaller shaking tin, then fill with ice. Place larger shaking tin on top, then flip. Shake mixture vigorously for 13 seconds. Double-strain cocktail (e.g., use this and also strain through this when pouring into glass) into your coupe or martini glass. Garnish with three espresso beans. They will float and look so pretty on top!

*We make ATK’s coffee liqueur from scratch but you can also buy this from the store. ATK’s recipe:  Place 1/2 cup coffee beans, 1.5 tsp cacao nibs, 1/4 vanilla bean (halved length-wise), 8 oz vodka, and 4 oz brandy in pint-size glass jar. Cover tightly and shake to combine. Store jar in cool, dark place for 1 week, shaking mixture once every other day. Set fine-mesh strainer in medium bowl and line with triple layer of cheesecloth. Strain vodka mixture through prepared strainer; discard solids. Return infused vodka mixture to clean jar and add 4 oz simple syrup. Cover and gently shake to combine. (Can be stored in cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Shake gently before using.)

Shopping Break.

+I am not kidding when I say this Urban Decay eye palette is my absolute favorite. I should show you a picture of what it looks like — I am basically scraping at the very bottom of each eye palette because I use it so frequently. The best everyday matte basics, and they last longer than you’d expected powder to last. I just re-ordered this palette while it’s 50% off (an Amazon Black Friday deal — my entire list here).

+Quince let me know they’d be launching some Black Friday deals here today. I’m not sure what will be included ahead of time, but I have a calendar reminder to check! Believe that this cotton fisherman sweater will be included, and it’s one of my favorites! I own in navy and the quality is amazing. Size up!

+If you have been angling to try the Augustinus Bader rich cream (which I am currently using and loving — but the price tag will make it an unlikely re-purchase), I found it for 25% off here.

+This satin mini from J. Crew is SUCH a great buy. Pair with flocked/patterned tights and velvet platforms. Also obsessed with this lurex turtleneck, which just arrived.

+Chanel vibes!! Like the idea of pairing these with black jeans and a fun little top.

+My top picks from Shopbop here (25% off tons of these hearted items) and Amazon here, and all my favorite deals/buys so far this week here. Trying to keep my best finds in those places.

+Still obsessing over all things metallic. This turtleneck from Sezane is a 10.

P.S. If you want more Magpie, you can subscribe to my Magpie Email Digest for a weekly roundup of top essays, musings, conversations, and finds. Subscribers will be getting a surprise holiday treat in their inboxes next week.

P.P.S. More of my favorite recipes (for cocktails and more) here.

P.P.P.S. What is your current hyper-fixation meal?

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4 thoughts on “A Martini Party + More Black Friday.

  1. Love this idea SO much, and love your execution of these three classics — kind of my dream lineup! I haven’t drank alcohol in nearly 5 years, but if there were two top drinks I miss at this time of year especially, it’s a Manhattan, made exactly as you described (down to the Luxardo cherry!), or a classic gin martini with lemon twist. Bonus points for Olivia Rodrigo! I had a dream that I crushed Vampire during a karaoke sesh … haha!!


  2. This is such a fun idea and you have inspired me to have a small, festive cocktail party, too! I’ve been lamenting the fact that I haven’t been organized enough this year to get a big holiday gathering on calendar, but had really blown right past the idea of just having a few people over! Great drinks and snacks suggestions, too. Love reading your blog, especially when I have several entries to catch up on. Just wanted to say thank you for the inspiration as always and wish you and your adorable family a wonderful holiday – Merry Christmas!

    1. Love!! I’m so glad!! Hope you enjoy a festive little cocktail party.

      Happy holidays to you — thank you for the generous note and especially for your readership!


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